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More on Scammers Abusing TTY Services

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the low-down-no-good-dirty-rotten-scoundrels dept.

Spam 192

edward ericson writes "A more comprehensive look at IP Relay scams and their effect on relay operators, the deaf, US business and the relay providers like Sprint, AT&T and MCI. Unlike a previous piece in the AZ Star, this one shows that the problem is at least a year old, and estimates that the companies have earned at least $23 million by facilitating scams. Anyone here care to discuss IP blocking techniques?" See our previous story for more.

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Interesting... (-1, Offtopic)

andy666 (666062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871451)

I thought this has been done.

Congratulations (1)

terriblekarmanow tm (592883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871847)

You managed to get first post ON THE WRONG ARTICLE

May all lesser cretins bow before you.

Execute all deaf people. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871453)

Starting with Joey Lucas.

Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (3, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871463)

It's more or less proven now that this system is implemented very poorly. IP-based TTY calls should be suspended until an effective authentication solution is in place.

The deaf people with computers can still get to this service by using their modems as a TTY terminal, and by calling a 1-800 number, there would be effective proof that the call is coming through the USA. Data calls don't get along well with VoIP services...

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871560)

Uh?

Modems are digital->analog converters, but I suspect that they're wired to only speak "modem speak".

To back up your claim, give us a link to a demo that would make my modem play music or speak English.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871637)

"TTY emulation" is a standard that nearly every dial-up modem subscribes to. Open up your 1980s-era terminal program again... that is to say, the way some of the first modems used to send text was the same way that TTY devices sent the same characters. Therefore, every modem-equiped computer can be a TTY device these days.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (2, Informative)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871915)

Actually this is wrong.

It works the other way around. Most TTY's can emulate modems. The native speed for TTY's is 45 bits per second. No real computer modem can go this slow - most have 300 bits per second as their lower limit. But many TTY's have built in ASCII modems that operate at 300 bits per second. What the parent poster is saying is that you can use your computer modem to connect to the relay service using this ASCII mode (300 bits per second).

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (4, Insightful)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871576)

Something else the submitter alluded to, and the article talked about: it looks like there needs to be an incentive to not take bogus phone calls. An incentive either in addition to or instead of an authentication system. Right now, if I read correctly, it seems as if "they" (AT&T, Sprint, etc) are getting paid by volume. That's a green light for greedy execs to sweep the problem under the rug, especially since the law prevents the operators from publically complaining.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (1)

caseydk (203763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871747)


Everyone blames the companies...

Could it be that the law is WRONG? If the law allowed for people to drop calls they determined to be fraudulent, it would be much more difficult.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (4, Insightful)

PretzelBat (770907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871606)

It's more or less proven now that this system is implemented very poorly. IP-based TTY calls should be suspended until an effective authentication solution is in place.

Okay. We should also suspend email, then, right? Because it is implmented very poorly, there is no system of authentication, and it is subject to MASSIVE abuse?

Oh, wait. You want to suspend other people's means of communication, but not your own. My bad.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871684)

Actually, I'd be glad to see SMTP e-mail shut down and replaced with something better too.

TTY translation service existed just fine before IP connections were accepted, so it'll be just fine after. I'm not cutting off the old way, just cutting off the new way so that the old way can continue to operate without the public distrusting it...

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (2, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871774)

Land line telephones existed before cell phones so why not just cut the cell phones out? Oh that's right, only the hearing people are allowed to move forward in technology while us retarded cripped poor deaf people need to stay in the stone ages. I keep forgetting my place in society.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871922)

you deaf people get to make free text calls and get them interpreted into vioce and sent to landlines over the internet

show me free voip to us landlines and i'll consider this fair

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (2, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872095)

I hope to god you become deaf one day and have to suffer with being treated daily like you were no longer a contributing member of society. For you it should become so difficult to do what others take for granted like ordering pizza. Then maybe you will begin to realize how stupid your comment was.

Papa John's lets you order online (1)

Deideldorfer (514118) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872405)

Order away! [papajohnsonline.com]

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (1)

timmi (769795) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871988)

How about this?

A smart phone like one of the Handspring, (Now Palm One) Treo's plus SMS. Handing one of those out to every deaf person in the states would have to cost less than allowing this fraud to continue.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (5, Insightful)

shrubya (570356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871761)

We should also suspend email, then, right?

I think you missed a teensy little point: the IP relay service is funded by TAX DOLLARS and MANDATORY FEES on all phone bills. The big telcos are making profit at our expense -- they get paid BY THE MINUTE handling phone calls for scammers.

Can you hear me now?

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (2, Informative)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872131)

Okay, as a deaf person... let me just say nobody would miss IP-Relay calls. They've been showing up at the expos trying to get customers for the last few years... it's a PITA to use. Many don't work right with Mozilla or Safari, forcing me to use IE ... Yikes. That gives me random disconnects during calls... YAY. The big thing these days is the video-relay services... which are MUCH nicer to use... the problem is upstream bandwidth which very few ISP's provide. 256K is what Sorenson requires, but they'll give you a unit with 130K or so. Hands-On VRS uses Windows software and a webcam... etc... there's about 5 major players in the VRS game... big money. I can't imagine how much the govt pays those call centers per call, the terps get seriously nice pay, more than I could ever get in IT. Ooops, now I'm saying too much. ;-)

Anyways, there's better solutions with less problems... if you use sign language that's a better authentication than an IP... video or actual TTY's make it a lot easier for the cops to find you. I never had problems with phone TTY relay. (Except bad Engris from call workers)

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (1)

ovlaski (73485) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872223)

I'd just like to be able to refuse all unsigned mail. Can we at least use s/mime so I can actually sue the spammers?

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (3, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871715)

Modem as TTY terminal? I don't have a modem. I have broadband. What about IP relay via my sidekick pager? The service isn't broken - it works great for me. What's broken is your thinking.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871759)

The service isn't broken - it works great for me.

Dir you read the article? Legit deaf people can't order things via TTY anymore because store owners won't accept the calls. That's a broken service for sure...

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (5, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871846)

I am legiminately deaf. I have never had a problem ordering things and I use the relay 50-75 times a year. Only once did was a call refused and that was by Ultimate Electronics. I simply proceeded to complain to the headquarters at the shoddy customer service and they promptly apologized and rolled out the red carpet. My family is all deaf as are most of my friends. Your "Legit deaf people can't order things via TTY anymore" is a fallacy.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (1)

Pranjal (624521) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871744)

The deaf people with computers

..that's easy for you to say. What about the thousands of deaf people without computers? No. Outright suspension isn't going to solve this problem.

Re:Kill the broken service, it's not needed. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871999)

Then they won't miss the shutdown of a service they never could use, and they likely already own a standard TTY device to communicate with.

It's dying anyway (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8872059)

Many deaf people are going away from the TTYs and are using fax machines.

At least that what my parents and their friends are doing.

Those scammers... (4, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871471)

Those scammers should have their eardrums busted when they are caught.

Parent should be (+1, teh funnae!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871678)

... but have you considered that some of the set "deaf people" might overlap with the set "assholes"?!!!!

Re:Parent should be (+1, teh funnae!) (1)

Steve B (42864) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872389)

Those scammers should have their eardrums busted when they are caught.

have you considered that some of the set "deaf people" might overlap with the set "assholes"?

Obviously -- even if this were not the case before, it would certainly be the case after the proposal was implemented.

Learn something new every day. (5, Informative)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871483)

This is the first I've ever heard of this, but the article does a really good job of explaining the background behind it. Hefty read, though.

I would not want to be in the position of the CAs that have to put up with this. According to TFA, not only can they not legally refuse to process these calls, in most cases (no international calls), but they are also prohibited from breaking the privacy barrier. That's not something I ever considered, but it's good to know your translator is not allowed to tell the world that you just bought Viagra over the phone.

On that note, they have to translate prank calls and phone sex. Jesus.

Re:Learn something new every day. (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871518)

The privacy pledge is turning out to be too strict. Clearly, these people know when they're being taken advantage of... but they're not allowed to do anything about it.

Re:Learn something new every day. (4, Interesting)

awtbfb (586638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872173)

There are some perfectly legal things they can do to make these calls as poor quality as possible. For example, relay operators are allowed to hand the call off to another operator (e.g., use the bathroom in the middle of a long call, etc). They can also speak the text with long pauses between words, etc. Driving the quality of service for these types of calls down would very quickly make the mark less willing to stay on the line. However, this would give the relay a bad name in the hearing community.

Alternatively, CAs are allowed to deliver a short instruction about the service. One could easily imagine a modification: "Have you ever used the relay before? ... No?... (stock explaination, follwed by) Please be aware that some calls placed through the relay are overseas fraud. Operators are not allowed to terminate calls but if you suspect fraud at any time, you may hang up..."

Govenment Policy (1)

ParSalian (551093) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871490)

Also interesting to know how much the government playes in it?

Please... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871511)

Will somebody just pull africas isdn line out of the wall.

Re:Please... (3, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871583)

Will somebody just pull africas isdn line out of the wall.

Seriously... a "data embargo" against Nigeria may very well be deserved at this point. They've clearly got a problem enforcing their own anti-scam laws.

They should be busting these scam rings up, or admitting that they can't and seeking help in doing so. The fact that this isn't happening is very deserving... why do we want them as a data trade partner?

Re:Please... (1)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871650)

The problem with a data embargo is it's totally unenforceable. The nature of routing prevents the US from just "unplugging" them. They can always find new peering. I don't know the backbone situation in Africa admittedly, but I assume theres more than one person happy to take the Nigerian government's money for connectivity.

Re:Please... (1)

man_ls (248470) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872438)

Peering is one thing...connectivity, and having hosts/routers along the line accept the data stream, is a totally different thing.

I've actually been thinking about this dilemma for a while and am drafting an RFC on the subject (it's not currently published, it will be a little while. Working on it in my spare time.)

The bottom line is: Unless they find some host to *proxy or NAT* all their connections, for the *entire country* it doesn't matter if they have the peering. If the backbone core routers of the United States will refuse to process traffic from xx.xx.xx.xx-xx.yy.yy.yy or whatever, it solves the problem.

However, due to the nature of the Internet, the "data embargo" blacklist would be better maintained by ICANN than by a governmental agency -- I can see the U.S. government abusing the data embargo to sever service to large areas of the globe, particularely ones that happen to have oil and people who are not Christians.

I imagine that once the RFC is posted, someone will pick up on it and post it to the front page, as I've seen happen before, but I'll submit a copy of it to Slashdot as well.

Re:Please... (3, Interesting)

Pavan_Gupta (624567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871766)

You suggest an interesting solution to a rampant problem, but I'm afraid it couldn't possibly be an effective way to stop the traffic coming out of nigeria. A simple proxy will allow the scammer to do whatever he/she wants to do. Heck, I'm relaying my connection from my university to my home with little to no effort at all -- I'm sure our enterprising nigerian scammers could very easily do the same.

And keep in mind, it's not only nigerians that are doing the scamming. Now that this method is being widely published, it'll definitely spread like wildfire until something definite is done about the problem. Don't forget that it wasn't too long ago that credit card fraud through little online shops was rampant (and many "pandits" were crying the online shopping world would crumble), but things changed. People learn especially quickly when they are losing money that they need to be wary of fradulent occurences.

Perhaps what's most needed is an embargo on dimwitted idiots. Then we won't have to worry about people getting so easily scammed. Perhaps that even goes for the laws relating to the governance of the TTY service. It's a shame it's come to this.

Re:Please... (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872193)

A data embargo would work much like a trade embargo. Sure, "black market" activities would go under the radar... but the intent is to disrupt above-the-board activites in order to get the government to do something that it was supposed to be doing all along.

Just like how WTO punishments can often be handed out to unrelated industries... the point is just to get the violation to stop.

Re:Please... (1)

orrigami (769691) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871770)

I thought it was a 56kbs modem...

Misspelled title (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871513)

Might be better as "Moron Scammers..."

This happened to me once... (4, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871529)

Or rather, my girlfriend.

I told the scammer in question to quit abusing her TTY services or I would beat the living hell out of him, and he did. Got right up and walked out of the bar after dropping a $20 for the drinks he'd bought. I recommended to my gf that she consider re-evaluating how her protocols broadcast the availability of her TTYs on public networks, and suggested she wear a turtleneck next time we went out. It hasn't been a problem since.

Sometimes you need to know the right techniques to apply.

Re:This happened to me once... (5, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871794)

You should have sought a new service provider, I'm afraid. The fact that she was broadcasting availablity when in fact her TTY services were already fully subscribed to is a definite sign of trouble. Your only choice is to disconnect, as she may still be advertising availabity when you are not monitoring.

IP blocking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871536)

In Apache:
Deny from xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

For iptables: /sbin/iptables -A CUSTOMFORWARD -i $INET -p TCP -s xxx.xxx.xxx.xx -j DROP

I'm sure other people can come up with more.

Re:IP blocking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871727)

Like, why not just drop all IP addresses from areas rife with scammers? That would be too simple. Besides, if the companies are getting paid to provide this service get paid by how much it's being used, why would they cut down on their volume of calls?

"Tax the rat farms!" - Vetinari

I have personal experience with this stuff... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871538)

I work overnights in a call center, doing mostly tech support, but I am in a overflow buffer for a customer service/retail catalog. These calls are some crazy stuff. They take forever, the person is slow to respond, always wants the item shipped right now, before we run the credit card. It's always obscene amounts of stuff too. For example they may call and ask for one thing, and you say we are out, then they take the next item up, 5-10 of them. They are items that people would never buy more than 1 of, maybe 2. Does the company care? The outsourcing company doesn't, they are getting paid per call. The retailer, doesn't seem to care as much as they should. I don't know how various write-offs work, but my guess is they probably use this in their taxes, the fraud loss I mean. The relay(phone) companies need to put a stop to this.

Re:I have personal experience with this stuff... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871890)

A fraud loss tax-writeoff cussions the blow of a bad sale by allowing it to be deducted from the taxable profits... but it also deducts real profits as well. Fair enough that they don't have to pay taxes on money they didn't really make.

Nobody's ever gotten rich off of claiming tax deductions. They've just prevented themselves from becoming needlessly poor by paying too much taxes. If your deductions outnumber your profits... you don't pay taxes, but you're also losing money as a business.

Re:I have personal experience with this stuff... (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872291)

Does the company care? The outsourcing company doesn't, they are getting paid per call.

I think you hit the nail on the head here. The fact that the government foots the bill for these calls is probably a disincentive for the Relay Centers to do anything about this, and probably why they will take disciplinary action against employees who think for themselves and refuse to handle obvious scams. A classic case of corporate greed. What it needs is for a fraud victim to sue a Relay Center for being an accessory to fraud, or for the FCC to regulate.

wow, a new low (1, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871541)

I say rather than block IPs, we block these scammers access to air.

See how long they can scam then.

Blargh. POS people.

Wow, Insightful... (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871687)

I say rather than block IPs, we block these scammers access to air.

What's bugging me is reading this Clarke book, in particular the lack of information awareness of the FBI. It's small wonder that more of the clowns spamming and scamming aren't getting busted. It would seem a fairly minor effort to look these people up, gather some evidence and send an agent over to bust their chops (or pass the stuff along to local athorities.)

That I'm still getting piles of spam states very clearly that tracking and apprehension are sorely lacking. That much effort is now put onto tracking terrorists rather than domestic criminals and they budgets for intelligence and law enforcement have taken some big hits under the current administration is a fairly clear message to perpetrators, "We will pass laws, but we A) Wont't enforce them OR B) Can't enforce them.

Re:Wow, Insightful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871805)

So the question is... If these scammers donate any money to terrorist organizations can we hold AT&T liable for contributing to terrorism?

No authentication leads to abuse (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871550)

Anything that's totally given away for free meant to help a certain segment of society should at least seek proof that the person taking advantage of the service is a member of that segment of society.

No government in the USA hands out handcapped parking permits to everyone who asks. There's a documentation process to certify that one is entitled to it. Sure, that process sometimes gets fooled into giving a permit to somebody not entitled to it, but as least there's a paper trail created by such a fraud that can be followed once it is discovered.

Free TTY services be allowed to issue usernames and passwords to their customers, keep text logs of the conversations, and able to revoke the access of those who abuse their accounts. Basically, the laws that are requiring them to be open are also regulating this service to its death. This needs to be fixed quick.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (1, Informative)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871635)

Um, since LostCluster has already posted in this thread, I think he'll notice the post he made in the last one that you just plagarized from him. At least one mod missed the boat already.

Original post. [slashdot.org]

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871865)

Offtopic? Wow. Mods are idiots. I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work. :)

For those that don't understand her (I assume Liselle is a her?), the point is that this is the second Slashdot article on this topic, and the AC simply copied verbatim a highly-modded post from the first one.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871891)

Mods on crack, I'll drink to that.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (0, Flamebait)

Ye Olde Trolle (771612) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871903)

The questione I would posse would be thus: what would an anonymouss cowyrd gaine from said re-poste? Per-haps sir LostCluster is said cowyrd?

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871956)

Nope. Wasn't me... I'd like to know who's copying my post too.

IT IS I! (1)

Ye Olde Trolle (771612) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872063)

Nope. Wasn't me... I'd like to know who's copying my post too

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (1)

Mateito (746185) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871732)

> No government in the USA hands out handcapped
> parking permits to everyone who asks.

San Francisco at one point had more handicapped parket permits on issue than parking spaces available in the city.

Unfortunately I can't find a link, but I believe it was when I was there around year 2000.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871834)

keep text logs of the conversations
This one doesn't make sense to me. Do the people who issue handicapped parking permits keep a list of the places people park? These conversations are often intensely personal; it's literally the only way some of these people can use a telephone. I agree completely with authentication, but keeping records seems intrusive and demeaning. And if they are kept, sooner or later the deaf will start getting "targeted" TTY advertisements...

"You recently mentioned to your mother that you're thinking of moving. Contact Local Realtors Inc for a free consulation!", etc.

To say nothing of the legal implications; a warrentless wiretap on thousands of American phones, always running, in plain-text, east-to-search format.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871861)

Free TTY services be allowed to issue usernames and passwords to their customers,
Yes. Requiring some sort of proof that the service is needed as you suggest might also be desirable.
keep text logs of the conversations,
No.

As I recall my sign language instructor explaining, the TTY Relay Service operator (and, I suppose, anything they might keep a hypothetical log with) is legally considered to be part of the telephone. They are NOT allowed to discuss anthing they hear; and any testimony they give about anything they have heard prior to a wiretap warrant being issued is legally inadmissable. You can be planning a murder, and the operator just has to relay the messages back and forth. It's a condition of legal privilege similar to those of spouses, doctors, lawyers, and the Secret Service.

Allowing mandatory logging would effectively put a bug into the phone of every deaf person who has need of this service. Any regulation or legislation permitting this would be struck down in court as a violation of the equal protection and reasonable search clauses.

As for the phone companies doing it themselves, they are under what is called "common carrier protection"-- they make no judgements over what to carry, they just send the voices back and forth, whether it's a call to mom or a death threat. Yes, harrassing calls are illegal, but the phone company only can take action AFTER the recipient complains. Logging, and revoking access based on use, would remove the Telco common carrier protection, and they REALLY don't want to do that. Not to mention the incidental that this might get them sued for civil rights violations under that pesky equal protection clause again.

This report does lead me to wonder, however. I recall being informed by a professor who specializes in history of computing that the phone phreak community back in the 1970's to 1990s was had a very large blind community. While speculations on the cause of that are moot to the matter at hand, there might actually be a group of deaf/hard-of-hearing folk who are gathering around this new (and even less moral) illegal activity. If so, it would be depressing.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I just argue with one.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (2, Insightful)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872039)

Yes, harrassing calls are illegal, but the phone company only can take action AFTER the recipient complains.

So why don't the vendors who have received these fraudulent calls complain to the phone company?
Get them tied up dealing with the complaints, explaining why they are unable to ID the caller, and they'll start losing money instead of earning it from the scams.

Then they'll lobby for some protection to be put in place.

Trolls have no shame... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871925)

At least this was posted AC... it is a total rip of What I posted in the earlier story about this, which is mentioned in the summary. [slashdot.org]

Re:Trolls have no shame... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8872100)

Didst said trolle violate thine precious IP? Art thou's commentes no longer valid?

Re:Trolls have no shame... (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872229)

Didst said trolle violate thine precious IP?
Yep. I don't have the money to go filing pointless lawsuits that I doubt I'd see anything from... but maybe it'd be cool to just force Slashdot to cough up the IP address of the "anonymous" troll.

Art thou's commentes no longer valid?
They sure are still vaild. I don't disagree with myself very often.

Re:No authentication leads to abuse (4, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872044)

Keep text logs of the conversation?

Slashdot blows up whenever there is a minor privacy issue but if it concerns deaf people, oh screw them. Keep logs of all their conversation and to hell with their privacy.

Government does not hand out handicapped permits to everyone who asks... but neither do they record the actual usage (location, time, etc) of those permits.

If you really want think text logs of conversations are ok then you are perfectly fine with the government also transcribing hearing people's phone conversations. After all, we want to make sure you are not planning terrorist attacks using your cell phone.

GNAA == Gynocologists Never Allow Abortion (1)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871578)

New group is forming the GNAA! GNAA@earthlink.com 1-877-263-0400 Please contact us if you are interested in joining Thank You

Ease Up on the Spammers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871625)

Even the hard of hearing could use a bigger penis.

They're deaf, not dead [] ) --laforge smiley

Check out a spacker's FAQ on this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871652)

It mentions it quite a lot [spacker.net] . (Spacker = spammer/hacker/scammer, for those who don't know.)

pranks via TTY (1, Interesting)

British (51765) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871657)

Go to phonelosers.net for some info on TTY related pranks, including, but not limited to:

1. making the TTY operator saying funny things("PLA go away")
2. Prank calling your friends across the USA via 800 numbers
3. Don't have a voice changer? use the TTY relay operator's voice!

RedBoxChiliPepper and friensds have been doing fun TTY for years!

Re:pranks via TTY (3, Informative)

camusflage (65105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871769)

You probably meant Phone Losers of America [phonelosers.org] .

fake link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871789)

fake link, goes to crap search page

Why do I think... (1)

terraformer (617565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871690)

...that some /geeks have been involved in this one?

Nigerian scams are but one annoyance CAs encounter on the job. They also facilitate phone sex and, frequently, endure prank calls in which college students and others call their friends--or even themselves--just for fun.

Obligatory Simpsons reference: Moe: Is there a Symore Butts in the bar?... Hey, alright I am going to strangle you next time you do this kid...

Mental images (3, Funny)

broothal (186066) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871702)

Funny mental images - A penis enlargement spam translated to sign language :)

Our method of slowly killing off spam (0, Offtopic)

Obscenity (661594) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871745)

My family runs their own mailserver (Sendmail). There is a perl script on our server (self-made) that denies mail for a number of reasons. If a reverse DNS lookup does not work, then the mail is rejected, if the mail is in NJABHL, then the mail gets rejected. Then, if we have ever gotten spam from that IP before, the mail is rejected. If we get mail from more than one IP in a subnet, the entire subnet is blacklisted. And finally, we have a few key-words that if found in piece of mail, it will be rejected.

Re:Our method of slowly killing off spam (1)

Cheile (724052) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871929)

These sorts of solutions always seem to pop up on slashdot and they do work rather well if you're doing anti-spam or anti-anything for a small group of people whom you know. I run a small mail server for a group of friends and I can blacklist whole sections of APNIC space because there's no reason that anyone would be getting anything legit from Asia. The problem that is always overlooked is that this solution does not scale at all. I can't use the same sorts of schemes at work where I have 10's of thousands of emails going through every day from all over the globe. I don't know what each and every user wants and I sure as hell don't know where my legit mail may come from and what it might say. In addition when you are in a buisiness situation the loss for one incorrectly blocked email is much greater than the loss for any number of spam. So, at work I am relegated to using SpamAssassin and tweaking it as much as I can. Of course there is a much higher level of spam at work, but it's the best I can do. The companies providing the IP TTY services are in much the same situation. While they should (and eventually must) provide some sort of filtering/blocking they aren't at liberty to do the same wholesale blocking that people can do if they are running a small server for a family. Odin S. O:)(:C

Why don't they block IP's? (3, Insightful)

zuikaku (740617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871757)

"...IP addresses, or for how long. He emphasized that such addresses are not tied to geography."

While the addresses are not tied to geography, generally speaking you can tell which IP's are from inside the US and which are from outside. This is supposed to be a system used by deaf Americans, right? Just block all foreign IP addresses. It won't stop all of the false calls, but it will stop a lot of them.

That seems the only solution, unless you come up with some kind of authentication.

Of course, as the article states, the phone companies don't really have an incentive to stop the calls since they are paid either way. This may be one time that legislation is required.

Now you know why the scams are still going on (1)

Pranjal (624521) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871767)

From the article...

the companies have earned at least $23 million by facilitating scams

That speaks for itself

I was almost a victim of this scam (3, Interesting)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871787)

I run a small online retail store, LED Supply [ledsupply.com] . One day last year I got a call:

Hello this is AT&T relay operator 12345...


The person on the other end wanted to order 40,000 of our EverLED LED flashlight bulbs. We only sold 1000 of these in all of last year. At $40 a pop, most people only want to buy one. So right away warning bells went off in my head. Some toolbag wants to buy $1,600,000 worth of product from a retailer he has no relationship with and he is doing it over TTY relay???

I figured I'd try to find out a little more about the individual. I asked him where he was from. "Nigeria." WHOOP WHOOP DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!! Needless to say I cut the conversation short.

It was a very difficult exchange, the Nigerian used broken english that neither myself nor the operator could really understand. It must have been very frustrating for the operator, I felt bad for her. The whole exchange took about an hour, it was extremely tedious. And it was a complete waste of my time. Thankfully that hour is ALL I lost.

The Nigerian tried to call me back TWICE both times using the TTY relay, of course I wasn't about to give him any more of my time. Selling $1.6 million worth of product via TTY relay is unconventional, but I don't discriminate against the disabled. I do NOT however do business with ANYBODY in or from Nigeria.

Re:I was almost a victim of this scam (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871827)

Nor do you do $1.6 million worth of sales of that item on one transaction ever. That's not discrimination, it's scam avoidance.

Well done.

Re:I was almost a victim of this scam (2, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872231)

Congratulations - this is EXACTLY what should have been done. You did not discriminate against deaf people. You merely avoided being a victim of scam. Now if you get a relay call in the future I hope you will take the call and if the person sounds legit that you would treat the deaf customer like any other customer you have.

Relay calls are inherently slower than direct calls - this is simply due to having a third party translator. But an hour??! Something else was going on - he was probably using some web based translator to translate Nigerian to English and vice versa.

Re:I was almost a victim of this scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8872407)

Can I have LED then or no?
Must have great many LED for Nigeria.

Dealing with scammers in a business environment (5, Interesting)

sloveless (518479) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871819)

I am currently employed by an online retailer. We've been dealing with this problem for at least TWO years. The basic scenario goes something like this: we receive an order placed online with an obscene total, next day shipping, a yahoo email addy, or a combination of other flags that tell us it's fraud. The credit card address verification always comes back "does not match" in these cases. Then we send them a polite email stating that we can't process their order any further until the address does match. Within minutes the call center receives a call from an IP relay operator. Occasionally, they don't identify themselves as IP operators. So we always ask "Is this an IP relay call?" So far, they've never denied it. (In the last two years we've documented ONE TTY call.) At this point we accept the call and then explain to the scammer that we can't accept IP relay calls and that they should send us an email. Shortly thereafter we get an email from a different yahoo account that reads like a 419 scam. It's fun.

Basically, the theory is that if someone is legitimately using the service, they're perfectly capable of sending email. The benefit is that we minimize the time spent dealing with scammers.

If anyone else has methods of dealing with this nonsense, I'd love to hear it.

Re:Dealing with scammers in a business environment (1)

awtbfb (586638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872328)

If anyone else has methods of dealing with this nonsense, I'd love to hear it.

Ask what "GA" stands for (Go Ahead, used in TTY conversations).

Other good "deaf centric" questions are:

What city is Gallaudet [gallaudet.edu] located in?

Who was Helen Keller? (famous deaf and blind woman)

What was Alexander Graham Bell's job? (teacher of the deaf [agbell.org] )

What does ASL stand for? (American Sign Language)

We get these all the time (5, Funny)

Flower Punk (411839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871892)

The owner of my company received one of these the other day. He's in his 70's, but he's on the ball.

He had one the other day where the operator relayed that the person wanted to know what credit cards our company accepted. He told the operator to tell them that we only accepted certified checks or wire transfers, and then told the operator that the person was going to hang up when they got that message.

The operator relayed the message, and there was a pause. Then she said "I'm sorry sir, but it is my job to relay this message: 'Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.'"

FBI must be in on the scamming.. (0, Flamebait)

Xilo (741751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871917)

I tried conversing with them through a relay, but they refused the call :/
Maybe it was the relay that refused to make the connection.. I'll call the relay through the relay and ask to talk to the manager. But I'll order a pizza first, if they'll let me. Mmmm, cheese. We'll see if they can get it hear^H^Hre in 30 min this time..

Re:FBI must be in on the scamming.. (1)

Misch (158807) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872396)

Actually, I remember in one of the joke sections in Readers Digest, a deaf person couldn't get through to the relay service to call to place an order for a pizza, so he called his parents on their tty, and had them call long distance and order the pizza instead.

About a half an hour later, the pizza was there and ready.

In Rochester, especially around RIT/NTID [ntid.edu] , pizza places and the like have installed TTY's and trained their staff how to use them.

Credit card companies' fraud handling is broken (4, Interesting)

LinuxParanoid (64467) | more than 10 years ago | (#8871947)

What's likewise crazy about online fraud to me is the following scenario.

As an online merchant, we see online orders that are clearly fraudulent. But the credit card still goes through (we 'authorize' first which just deducts from your credit limit). We decide not to take the order; thus we don't do a 'capture' on the card that would deduct the money from the poor guy's credit card account. That way we avoid getting charge-backs that would ruin our merchant rating and that would cost us in the end anyway (if caught). But we do log that credit card # in our database. Sometimes SIX MONTHS LATER the fraudster will use that same credit card # on our site again and it is *still* being accepted by Visa/Mastercard!

This is a broken system. As a merchant, we have no way (that I know of) to warn Visa/MasterCard or the issuing bank or the card holder that the number is being used for fraud! (Besides just going ahead and charging the card, knowing its fraud.) Certainly not an automated way to do so in the same way that we connect to payment gateways. It's just not in Visa's/Mastercard's interest to put a system in place because at the end of the day, the merchant is liable.

I'm interested if anyone knows of a place where merchants can swap info about fraudulent cards or other fraud data.

--LP

Re:Credit card companies' fraud handling is broken (2, Informative)

HarveyOpolis (14530) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872072)

You DO have the power to contact the issuing bank and get the card flagged.

Call your merchant bank, give them the card number and tell them you want the phone number for the bank that issued the card.

Call the bank, ask for the security/fraud department. Talk to the sometimes unhelpful people and you'll make progress.

Re:Credit card companies' fraud handling is broken (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872147)

You DO have the power to contact the issuing bank and get the card flagged.

Call your merchant bank, give them the card number and tell them you want the phone number for the bank that issued the card.

Call the bank, ask for the security/fraud department. Talk to the sometimes unhelpful people and you'll make progress.


Banks really should issue a bounty for those who report fraudlent cards in this way. Most merchants won't put that kind of effort into saving the rest of the world from fraud without having something in it for them...

What about using Social Security as a filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8871976)

Don't the Deaf in the US get benefits from the Social Security office? If that's the case, perhaps the FCC can team up with the SS office to issue unique logins and passwords that are sent to all the hearing impaired people out there. Then the hearing impaired person could use the login/pass combo to access the IPRelay services.

Re:What about using Social Security as a filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8872225)

Don't the Deaf in the US get benefits from the Social Security office?

Only when they retire.

forum (1)

upt1me (537466) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872004)

This is the forum [aimoo.com] they reference in the article.

wow, i'm a dork! (1)

Bender the Mighty (767534) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872009)

i work in a computer shop. monday i had a deaf person call and wanted me to order 3 dell laptops and ship them to africa for him. i was hesitant. i'm glad. the last e-mail i sent him saying if he wanted it done to mail me a check instead of the cc # he gave me. glad i did'nt buy those laptops, i'd of been punked.

Having worked... (2, Interesting)

Misch (158807) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872029)

Having worked at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf [ntid.edu] , I can tell you that IP Relay is the hottest thing there. Computer kiosks that were set up in the building used to be pointing to web pages within the school. When I left in 2002, most every time I walked past them, the browsers were opened to the Sprint IP-Relay center.

I wonder. If people shit on the commons, can we go back and chase them off with a gun?

Re:Having worked... (1)

AnonymousKev (754127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872218)

I wonder. If people shit on the commons, can we go back and chase them off with a gun?

Unfortunately, the trend is to leave the turd in place. When people complain, they are mocked, called a prude, and told if they don't like it, just don't look at it.

Oh wait ... we're not discussing free speech.

Ohhhhhh, the irony. (3, Funny)

pigeon768 (589860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872137)

From the article:
a fourfold increase in that single category of complaint, even while other criteria such as
typin accuracy and speed improved
bahahahahah

Ip and Geography (2, Informative)

augustz (18082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872191)

AT&T spokesman Cruz says his company can block scam calls but would not reveal whether AT&T had ever blocked IP addresses, or for how long. He emphasized that such addresses are not tied to geography.

Wow, the AT&T folks are technically clueless it seems. Deteriming which country an ip is from is reasonably possible given the fact that IP blocks and other tools (traceroute, rdns) exist. Either they don't know what they are doing or they are in it for the money. Remember we are not talking specific geography, but country level location.

http://ip-to-country.webhosting.info/ for example.

Am I missing something. Does ni not have any IP blocks or providers or standard routes? When I ran a site it was pretty trivial to work out what country someone came from even if the block wasn't clear, have things changed?

Re:Ip and Geography (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872285)

They're pointing out that any IP-based block could simply be defeated by the Nigerians going around and using any open web proxy in another place.

However... the law says they should only be getting paid for sessions that originate from the USA. I say the burden should be on the telcos to submit evidence that a user is a real person in the USA before they can claim their money. Since the IP isn't good enough to verify a location, you're gonna need to collect something else. :)

IP address vs. geographic locale (1)

bshroyer (21524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872232)

From the article: The FCC agreed to use the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund to pay for IP Relay for the same technical reason that allows easy access by scammers: unlike phones, which can be quickly traced to a particular location, computer IP addresses are not tied to any place. As one FCC document put it, "WorldCom states that there is no way of determining the origin of IP Relay calls, because Internet addresses have no geographical correlates."

I'll plead ignorance -- I assume they're right in saying there is no strict, one-to-one relationship between IP address and locale. But isn't it possible to identify with a HIGH degree of likelihood that a given IP is originating in Nigeria? Or that the packets have been routed through Nigeria?

Impressive (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8872237)

I'd submitted the original AZ Star story on this scam, but after reading this new article, all I can say is, "Now THIS is journalism!"

Very impressive, City Paper.
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